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Feed autonomy in organic cattle farming systems : a necessary but not sufficient lever to be activated for economic efficiency

Faux, Anne-Michelle; Decruyenaere, Virginie; Guillaume, Mary and Stilmant, Didier (2022) Feed autonomy in organic cattle farming systems : a necessary but not sufficient lever to be activated for economic efficiency. Organic agriculture, 12, 335-–352.

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Document available online at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13165-021-00372-0


Increasing the level of feed autonomy is usually considered as a prerequisite for conversion of cattle farms to organic management. This study is aimed at generating references for organic dairy and beef production through a technical and economic assessment of feed autonomy in commercial farms. Data were collected in 2014 and 2015 on 11 farms located in distinct agricultural regions of Wallonia, Belgium. Dry matter (DM) production, animal performance and all cash in- and outflows were recorded. Economic efficiency (EE) was computed as the share of the feed margin, i.e., the gross product minus the total feed and processing costs, in the gross product. The mean level of mass feed autonomy (FAm) was 94 ± 6%. Feed production costs (p < 0.05) and feed purchase costs (p < 0.001) were negatively correlated with FAm so that the total feed cost decreased with FAm (p < 0.001). All farms with EE > 65% had a level of FAm ≥ 90%; however, one farm with FAm ≥ 90% had a mean EE of 55% over both study years. This observation suggested that a 90% level of FAm is necessary, but not sufficient, to be economically efficient in organic cattle farming. Four production systems with EE > 65% and thus FAm ≥ 90% were finally characterized based on the observed crop rotations, overall DM yields, stocking rates and animal performances.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:dairy, beef, farm, feed autonomy, economic efficiency, Wallonia
Agrovoc keywords:
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Animal husbandry
Animal husbandry > Production systems > Beef cattle
Animal husbandry > Feeding and growth
Research affiliation:Belgium
Belgium > Wallonia > Centre Wallon de Recherche Agronomique (CRA-W) (Gembloux)
Belgium > Wallonia
Deposited By: MOERMAN, Mrs Marie
ID Code:45685
Deposited On:09 Mar 2023 08:18
Last Modified:09 Mar 2023 08:18
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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